State-owned energy firm ‘must sit at heart of decision-making’

A publicly owned energy company must be positioned at the heart of policy making, according to a Holyrood committee.

Proposals are under consideration by MSPs on whether to establish a state-owned company that would supply household power and could invest in renewable energy.

In her speech to the SNP conference in October 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the idea would be taken forward by 2021.

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee wrote a letter to the Scottish Government on Friday with its findings on setting up a Publicly Owned Energy Company (POEC) and determining what role it could take.

The committee indicated that a POEC would have the potential to provide independent oversight, collaborate with others in the field and join up existing climate change and fuel poverty policies.

Gordon Lindhurst MSP, committee convener said: “If a Publicly Owned Energy Company is to provide cheaper energy and tackle fuel poverty, it must sit at the heart of decision-making and market transition.

“However, in an already crowded market place, we would like to see a clear mission statement on how the company plans to build a sustainable customer base, how it will operate, how it will align with existing initiatives, and what extra value it will add.

“With so many expectations placed, there is a danger it ends up pleasing nobody.

“We hope that will not be the case and – for the sake of affordable fuel bills and decarbonisation.”

As well as formal evidence sessions and written submissions, the inquiry drew on research commissioned by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) on behalf of the committee.

The Centre for Energy Policy suggested four overarching objectives that a Scottish POEC could have – creating new energy infrastructure platforms, accelerating wider energy system transformation, increasing engagement and participation in the energy system and reducing costs to consumers.